Let’s Hear It For Doctrine!
By T.F. Tenney
The word “doctrine” in its simplest form means “teaching.” I well remember the words of my old pastor, “Doctrine is to the church what bones are to the body; without them you are totally limp and can’t stand for anything.” It is impossible to have a true New Testament Church without doctrine. I’m not talking about squabbles over philosophies and endless genealogies, Paul said there’s no end to that strife. I’m talking about sound, evident Bible doctrine. 00 Let’s talk about doctrine. The initial evidence doctrine is one of the clearest teachings of the New Testament. One large Pentecostal denomination recently awakened to the fact that only 3 5% of its members had the baptism of the Holy Ghost, speaking with tongues. This has engendered a teaching among them of “tongues is not the initial evidence; any gift of the spirit could be the evidence of the Holy Ghost.” Since so many of their people do not speak with tongues, a seedbed of anti-initial-evidence adherents has been created. They are virtually fighting for their lives on the premise of this teaching. Is tongues the initial evidence?
Tongues is one of the touchstones of the Pentecostal experience. It is somewhat like the fellow who went in to the shoe store and asked the price of a particular pair of shoes. The salesman told him. He then asked, “What would it be if you took the tongue of the shoe out?” The startled salesman said, “My friend, it’s a package deal. When you get the shoe, you get the tongues. You can’t separate them.” So it is with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Tongues in itself is not the Holy Spirit. But, when the Holy Spirit falls, tongues is its accompanying agent. It’s a package deal. We never admonish people to seek tongues for tongues sake. Seek God and when He comes in baptismal measure, it is attended by speaking in other tongues or languages.
It is important to understand that there are apparently three types of tongues in the New Testament: 1) tongues as the initial evidence, 2) tongues as a prayer or devotional language, and 3) tongues as a gift of the Spirit. Tongues as a devotional language and as a gift of the spirit are dealt with by Paul in I Corinthians 12. This is not the premise of our article today.
Tongues as the initial evidence is first found in Acts 2. When the Holy Spirit fell, the Book said, “They were all filled … and all began to speak with other tongues…” (Acts 2:4). When asked, “What meaneth
this?” Peter said, “This is that spoken by the prophet Joel…” The “that” no doubt encompassed not only the experience but the accompanying tongues. Joel had declared, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, saith the Lord.” When that outpouring came in Acts 2, it was accompanied by tongues.
Someone says, “Why speak with tongues?” My answer is, “Why not?” If God says it, that settles it.
In the tenth chapter of the Book of Acts, the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his household. How do we know the Holy Spirit fell? Acts 10:44 says “…because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost Verse 46 says for they heard them speak with tongues…”It appears that those who accompanied Peter were astonished because the Holy Ghost with tongues had been given to the Gentiles. It is important to note who these men were that accompanied Peter. They were from Joppa. We have no Biblical account of an outpouring at Joppa yet Peter said, “Can any man forbid water that these should be baptized which had received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” Undoubtedly the “we” encompassed the men from Joppa. There must have been an unrecorded outpouring of the Spirit at Joppa, accompanied by tongues.
The nineteenth chapter of the Book of Acts is another paramount example. Paul laid his hands on the Ephesian elders in Acts 19:6 and they received the Holy Ghost and spake with tongues. Paul himself said, “I thank God I speak with tongues more than ye all.”
I have heard the arguments that tongues were only given to establish the New Testament church. After its establishment they were not necessary. Let’s be rational. If anyone needed a special effusion of power would it be those who were contemporaries with Christ’s earthly ministry or we who are 2,000 years removed. If anyone needed an afterburner it would be we who live in the closing decade of the twentieth century. No, the fact of the matter is, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He did in the Book of Acts, He is still doing today.
The Holy Ghost has never recognized barriers. He goes to the synagogue as well as to the heathen temple. He moves upon Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. He goes to Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria, and to the uttermost part. He is universal in His operation and ecumenical in His outreach. Whenever hungry men reach to God, He said, “I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.”
I call upon Pentecostals everywhere to contend for the faith. Believe in the Holy Ghost! Preach the Holy Ghost! Receive the Holy Ghost! When He comes, He will speak for Himself. Let’s hear it for doctrine – the doctrine of the initial evidence! May it ever be reached and contended for in Pentecostal churches everywhere. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is not a spare tire on a vehicle called salvation. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is the entrance of God Himself into the lives of the believers (Colossians 1:27). The Spirit giveth life. How much life do you think you have without the Spirit? I thank God for the old-fashioned, tongue-talking Pentecostal experience!
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